Christians, Morality and Israel

After reading a lot today, and with all the chaos going on in the world, I’ve realized something pretty significant about the human race. It seems that each and every one of us is capable of displaying the most unthinkable evil, without even realizing it. And sometimes this evil is noticeable to everyone around, other times it takes form in a more indistinct way.

What brought this to my attention today was reading shameless comments after many articles on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. What I read was despicable. And it came from everyday Americans who love their kids, love Jesus, go to church on Sunday and volunteer at their kids schools. Decent people.

But these same decent Christians, or I should say many, are encouraging and celebrating the annihilation of other human beings; humans, Palestinians, who, by chance, live in a geographical location outside of their understanding. Some were even calling for a nuclear bomb to be hurled on to these folks. Israel’s unjust aggression against the Palestinians is wildly supported by Americans. Unknown to most who reside in the West, Palestinians too, are people who love their God, their kids and desire a prosperous future for them. But unfortunately, these folks are hopelessly enslaved to that tiny little region called the Gaza Strip; a devastating place, walled in, with little hope for a better future.

I might be wrong, but it seems that morality, in this age of mass entertainment, is dictated by superficial matters instead of a deep love for our fellow humans, doesn’t it? People seem to be more in love with their reality TV shows, or sports, than they are with their fellow man. People want to be entertained and amused constantly. Very few aspire for a better understanding of the world they live in.

With our heads filled with little substance and plenty of disinformation,  we’re all susceptible to believing everything were told, unquestionably. We tend to hate and make enemies with people who politicians tell us to hate. We live deluded inside invisible boundaries called “nations.” It’s that tribal mentality that gets us every time.

Isn’t that the main problem with today’s world?

Ignorance causes hate and evil feeds off of it. If our minds are conditioned to hate, no religion or god can save us.

Now saying all this, many Christians believe that the Bible tells them they have to support Israel at all costs. They believe, as Philip Giraldi wrote,

“Christian Zionism is not a religion per se, but rather a set of beliefs based on interpretations of specific parts of the Bible – notably the book of Revelations and parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah – that has made the return of the Jews to the Holy Land a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ. The belief that Israel is essential to the process has led to the fusion of Christianity with Zionism, hence the name of the movement.

The political significance of this viewpoint is enormous, meaning that a large block of Christians promotes a non-reality based foreign policy based on a controversial interpretation of the Bible that it embraces with considerable passion. Christian Zionism by definition consists of Christians (normally Protestant evangelicals) who believe that once the conditions are met for the second coming of Jesus Christ all true believers will be raptured up into heaven, though details of the sequence of events and timing are disputed. Many Christian Zionists believe that the Second Coming will happen soon, within one generation of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, so they support the government and people of Israel completely and unconditionally in all that they do, to include fulfilling the prophecy through encouraging the expansion by force into all of historic Judea, which would include what remains of the Palestinian West Bank.”

A brief history of what is going on in Palestine is in order. Stephen Warren at Antiwar.com wrote a great column today. In it he writes:

“80% of 1.8 million people living in the 141 square mile Gaza Strip are refugees and their descendants, expelled from their homes in 1948, during the ethnic cleansing that created the state of Israel. Expansion and expulsion have continued ever since. Homes in the West Bank are continually destroyed to make way for more Israeli settlements. Always taking the best land and leaving the Palestinians with whatever Israel has no use for. Gaza is under siege.

Since 1967, both the West Bank and Gaza have been under Israeli Occupation. In 2005, the occupiers withdrew from Gaza, and replaced a brutal occupation with a brutal siege, creating the world’s largest open air prison. The blockade of Gaza is designed to make life absolutely miserable, and, as an Israeli diplomat stated, “keep Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse.” Israel completely controls what gets allowed in. Repeated bombings have reduced much of Gaza to rubble, and they can’t rebuild because construction materials are barred. A calorie calculation was even made so Israel could allow Gazans just enough to survive. As a top Israeli advisor said, “the Palestinians will get a lot thinner but won’t die.” Over 10% of Gaza children are chronically malnourished; 13% have stunted growth.

Civilians are regularly shot by Israeli forces near Gaza’s northern and eastern borders. Two boys were shot by Israeli snipers in the West Bank on May 15th. Arbitrary imprisonment is also routine. Water and sewage systems were destroyed in Israel’s ’08 invasion, leaving over half the population with a struggle just to get clean water. These systems have again been targeted in the current bombings. The whole strip is facing a water crisis.”

As of today, 435 Palestinians (80% civilians) and 18 Israeli’s have died from the recent conflict. Jason Ditz writes, “The toll on the Palestinian side is overwhelming civilian in nature, with an estimated 80 percent of the slain civilians. Of the 435, 112 were children. By contrast, the dead on the Israeli side are almost exclusively soldiers, with 16 troops killed and 2 civilians since the war began.”

Of course this is just the beginning. Israel has no end game. The death toll will rise.

Understanding all this, can a rational person with love in their heart really support such oppression? Such depraved actions?

Maybe it’s time that the U.S. reevaluates its one-way relationship with the state of Israel. Maybe it’s time to stop sending billions of dollars annually to a nation that is continually committing blatant war crimes for the world to see. Maybe it’s time to follow the advice of George Washington when he said, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.”

What I can’t comprehend is seeing so many Christians plaster their Facebook pages with slogans likes “I Stand with Israel”, or “I’m praying for Israel”?

Did you pray for the Palestinian people also? I highly doubt it.

Shouldn’t the church, the people who claim to follow the teachings of the Prince of Peace, be on the front lines in denouncing the oppression and mass murder the Israeli government is inflicting on the Palestinian people rather than cheering it on?

If a religion causes anyone to be indifferent to evil in this world, it should not only be reassessed, but abandoned all together. If your interpretation of an ancient doctrine means puting more relevance on groups and geographical locations rather than common decency, it’s time for a spiritual check up.

We shouldn’t let the media shape our minds. We must not let false rhetoric from preachers and teachers douse the flame in our hearts. It’s on us to be informed and realize that we’re all one, man. We really are. Any teachings that teach otherwise will continue to plague the human race. As the great Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, once wrote, “If people can be educated to see the lowly side of their own natures, it may be hoped that they will also learn to understand and to love their fellow men better. A little less hypocrisy and a little more tolerance towards oneself can only have good results in respect for our neighbor; for we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures.”

The Parasite

You supply me the needs for my existence.

I feed off of you. I take a great portion of the fruits of your labor. And you remain silent while I do this. I force you to comply with all my demands and laws, and you think you’re a good citizen for obeying. I restrict and regulate the interactions you have with your fellow countrymen and you think that I’m protecting you. I have a monopoly over the currency you earn, and I devalue it year after year to benefit me. At the expense of you. I control the curriculum that your kids learn from. I teach children a version of history that makes them crave me in the future. I have their minds in the palm of my hand from the day you surrender them to me. I get to decide if what I’m doing is lawful or not. And you buy it. I trick your sons and daughters into joining my ranks to fight my wars which inflate my power. And when I fight these beneficial wars, I restrict your freedom at home. And you don’t mind. You defend me still. Your kids pledge to me in classrooms every morning. You sing hymns to me before sporting events. You love and worship me. You look to me to solve all your hardships. And sometimes I do, because I know I’ll have you for life. I give your hard-earned money to people who don’t work, because they help keep me in power. I give your money to powerful corporations who I work with to keep you highly misinformed. You can’t even begin to imagine a world without me. I control your mind and your heart.  And that little minority out there who knows all this, I will attempt to destroy. But I don’t have to, because you’ll do it for me. You will defend me until your dying day. I’m your master and you’re my willing slave. And you believe yourself noble for this. The funny thing is, you think that you’re free. And you brag about this freedom that you think you have. It’s amusing. But in all truth, without you, I couldn’t exist.

That is why I thank you from the bottom of my cold heart each and every day for your unwavering support.

See you at Election Day.

5 Reasons why American Wars Fail

Writes Tom Engelhard at Tomdispatch.com:

The United States has been at war — major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, air strikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts, and covert actions — nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began.  That’s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions…

So here are five straightforward lessons — none acceptable in what passes for discussion and debate in this country — that could be drawn from that last half century of every kind of American warfare:

1. American-style war doesn’t work.  Just ask yourself: Are there fewer terrorists or more in our world almost 13 years after the 9/11 attacks?  Are al-Qaeda-like groups more or less common?  Are they more or less well organized?  Do they have more or fewer members?  The answers to those questions are obvious: more, more, more, and more.  In fact, according to a new RAND report, between 2010 and 2013 alone, jihadist groups grew by 58%, their fighters doubled, and their attacks nearly tripled.

On September 12, 2001, al-Qaeda was a relatively small organization with a few camps in arguably the most feudal and backward country on the planet, and tiny numbers of adherents scattered elsewhere around the world.  Today, al-Qaeda-style outfits and jihadist groups control significant parts of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and even Yemen, and are thriving and spreading in parts of Africa as well.

Or try questions like these: Is Iraq a peaceful, liberated state allied with and under Washington’s aegis, with “enduring camps” filled with U.S. troops on its territory?  Or is it a riven, embattled, dilapidated country whose government is close to Iran and some of whose Sunni-dominated areas are under the control of a group that is more extreme than al-Qaeda?  Is Afghanistan a peaceful, thriving, liberated land under the American aegis, or are Americans still fighting there almost 13 years later against the Taliban, an impossible-to-defeat minority movement it once destroyed and then, because it couldn’t stop fighting the “war on terror,” helped revive?  Is Washington now supporting a weak, corrupt central government in a country that once again is planting record opium crops?

But let’s not belabor the point.  Who, except a few neocons still plunking for the glories of “the surge” in Iraq, would claim military victory for this country, even of a limited sort, anywhere at any time in this century?

2. American-style wars don’t solve problems.  In these years, you could argue that not a single U.S. military campaign or militarized act ordered by Washington solved a single problem anywhere.  In fact, it’s possible that just about every military move Washington has made only increased the burden of problems on this planet. To make the case, you don’t even have to focus on the obvious like, for example, the way a special operations and drone campaign in Yemen has actually al-Qaeda-ized some of that country’s rural areas.  Take instead a rare Washington “success”: the killing of Osama bin Laden in a special ops raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  (And leave aside the way even that act was over-militarized: an unarmed Bin Laden was shot down in his Pakistani lair largely, it’s plausible to assume, because officials in Washington feared what once would have been the American way — putting him on trial in a U.S. civilian court for his crimes.)  We now know that, in the hunt for bin Laden, the CIA launched a fake hepatitis B vaccination project.  Though it proved of no use, once revealed it made local jihadists so nervous about medical health teams that they began killing groups of polio vaccination workers, an urge that has since spread to Boko Haram-controlled areas of Nigeria.  In this way, according to Columbia University public health expert Leslie Roberts, “the distrust sowed by the sham campaign in Pakistan could conceivably postpone polio eradication for 20 years, leading to 100,000 more cases that might otherwise not have occurred.” The CIA has since promised not to do it again, but too late — and who at this point would believe the Agency anyway?  This was, to say the least, an unanticipated consequence of the search for bin Laden, but blowback everywhere, invariably unexpected, has been a hallmark of American campaigns of all sorts.

Similarly, the NSA’s surveillance regime, another form of global intervention by Washington, has — experts are convinced — done little or nothing to protect Americans from terror attacks.  It has, however, done a great deal to damage the interests of America’s tech corporations and to increase suspicion and anger over Washington’s policies even among allies.  And by the way, congratulations are due on one of the latest military moves of the Obama administration, the sending of U.S. military teams and drones into Nigeria and neighboring countries to help rescue those girls kidnapped by the extremist group Boko Haram.  The rescue was a remarkable success… oops, didn’t happen (and we don’t even know yet what the blowback will be).

3. American-style war is a destabilizing force.  Just look at the effects of American war in the twenty-first century.  It’s clear, for instance, that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 unleashed a brutal, bloody, Sunni-Shiite civil war across the region (as well as the Arab Spring, one might argue).  One result of that invasion and the subsequent occupation, as well as of the wars and civil wars that followed: the deaths of hundreds of thousands of IraqisSyrians, and Lebanese, while major areas of Syria and some parts of Iraq have fallen into the hands of armed supporters of al-Qaeda or, in one major case, a group that didn’t find that organization extreme enough.  A significant part of the oil heartlands of the planet is, that is, being destabilized.

Meanwhile, the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the CIA’s drone assassination campaign in the tribal borderlands of neighboring Pakistan have destabilized that country, which now has its own fierce Taliban movement.  The 2011 U.S. intervention in Libya initially seemed like a triumph, as had the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan before it.  Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and the rebels swept into power.  Like Afghanistan and Iraq, however, Libya is now a basket case, riven by competing militias and ambitious generals, largely ungovernable, and an open wound for the region.  Arms from Gaddafi’s looted arsenals have made their way into the hands of Islamist rebels and jihadist extremists from the Sinai Peninsula to Mali, from Northern Africa to northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is entrenched.  It is even possible, as Nick Turse has done, to trace the growing U.S. military presence in Africa to the destabilization of parts of that continent.

4. The U.S. military can’t win its wars.  This is so obvious (though seldom said) that it hardly has to be explained.  The U.S. military has not won a serious engagement since World War II:  the results of wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq ranged from stalemate to defeat and disaster.  With the exception of a couple of campaigns against essentially no one (in Grenada and Panama), nothing, including the “Global War on Terror,” would qualify as a success on its own terms, no less anyone else’s.  This was true, strategically speaking, despite the fact that, in all these wars, the U.S. controlled the air space, the seas (where relevant), and just about any field of battle where the enemy might be met.  Its firepower was overwhelming and its ability to lose in small-scale combat just about nil.

It would be folly to imagine that this record represents the historical norm.  It doesn’t.  It might be more relevant to suggest that the sorts of imperial wars and wars of pacification the U.S. has fought in recent times, often against poorly armed, minimally trained, minority insurgencies (or terror outfits), are simply unwinnable.  They seem to generate their own resistance.  Their brutalities and even their “victories” simply act as recruitment posters for the enemy.

5. The U.S. military is not “the finest fighting force the world has ever known” or “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known,” or any of the similar over-the-top descriptions that U.S. presidents are now regularly obligated to use.  If you want the explanation for why this is so, see points one through four above.  A military whose way of war doesn’t work, doesn’t solve problems, destabilizes whatever it touches, and never wins simply can’t be the greatest in history, no matter the firepower it musters.  If you really need further proof of this, think about the crisis and scandals linked to the Veterans Administration.  They are visibly the fruit of a military mired in frustration, despair, and defeat, not a triumphant one holding high history’s banner of victory.

 

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, isTerminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

empty bottles as her final audience

I rarely watch television.
Bored one day, I turned it on.
Flipped through the channels
for a bit and stopped on an
old classic movie.

What paralyzed my finger
was the face of a beautiful
young woman.

She was striking.

The movie was called
Seven Men from Now.
It came out the same year
as my father was born, 1956.

I was stunned by this woman’s
delicate loveliness. She was
perfect, almost. Innocently
eloquent. I watched for a while.
The camera enjoyed narrowing
in on her face often. Movie
directors are stylish, they
know what people like.

Curious, I took out my laptop
and looked her up. Her name was
Gail Russell. Apparently, Paramount
signed her, with no acting experience,
shortly after High School. They wanted
this heavenly face on the big screen
and figured they’d be able to mold
her into an actor. They did. At a cost.

She was shy and quiet. Probably chewed
up and spit out. Probably manipulated
by the dreadful folks in Hollywood.
To calm her nerves while acting,
she starting drinking on set.
More and more.

Most of her movies were mediocre.
Occasionally good. She got a little boost
mid-point in her short career
by doing a movie with John Wayne.

She was still beautiful, even
after years of throwing ‘em back.

Her drinking started to become a problem.
She got in a vehicle accident, sailing her car
into a coffee shop. DUI’s piled up.
Paramount dumped her and that
pretty much ruined her career.

Alcohol induced melancholy took hold.
She became a recluse, kind of. And at
36 years old, she died alone
in her apartment.

Malnourished and saturated
with booze. Empty bottles
as her final audience.

Her striking beauty was no more.

I got a little sad when I read all this.
She needed someone, decent, to
love her. Show her appreciation. To
take her out of Hollywood.

She needed something. This
wasn’t supposed to be her life.

Today she lies buried
in the same town that killed her,
mostly forgotten.

And it’s sad to know this.

JEANNECRAINIII

 

A different way to celebrate Memorial Day…

Happy Memorial Day. As a former veteran myself, I say we do things a little different on this day. Instead of repeating tired old mantras and pointless slogans about freedom, let’s get educated. Let’s understand the world we live in, instead of being fooled by it. Let’s honor the lost lives by exposing the dishonesty that initiated the wars which caused these tragedies. Let’s find out and understand who benefits from these senseless wars.

Since WW2, earth has had 248 armed conflicts. The US started 201 of them. 30 million people were killed, 90% being innocent civilians, majority being women and children. Every single United States war in the last 100 years began under false pretenses (lies). War, in truth, is the enemy of freedom, but is misleadingly sold to the public as its savior. It has always been known by intelligent minds that war is the health of the state. So let’s be genuine instead of robotic in our celebrations today. Let’s not let these folks die in vain any longer. Let’s be vigilant toward the political class who send our troops to kill and be killed. That is our duty. The founding fathers understood this completely.

Check out my poem on why I hate war by clicking here.